Extraordinary… . she calls to mind writers as disparate as Joan Didion and John Jeremiah Sullivan as she interrogates the palpitations of not just her own trippy heart but of all of ours… . Her cerebral, witty, multichambered essays tend to swing around to one topic in particular: what we mean when we say we feel someone else’s pain… . I’m not sure I’m capable of recommending a book because it might make you a better person. But watching the philosopher in Ms. Jamison grapple with empathy is a heart-expanding exercise.“ —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
After receiving an overwhelming amount of stellar reviews, we decided to delve into the obscure and excavate the wildness of the human heart. Although, we finished reading The Empathy Exams a week ago, we still feel incompetent to deliver the feelings Leslie Jamison inspired in an intellectual text, hence this review; yet we are not fearful. Leslie Jamison began her study in empathy as a medical actress, who was hired to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose. With an unorthodox perspective to physical pain, Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams poses challenging, introspective questions, which we avoid to investigate as a whole. As humanity, what is the best way to take care of one another? Should one person’s level of empathy be examined as a device to evaluate a person’s character? How can we experience compassion of another individual’s pain, when we doubt it?
Using a cultural and personal perspective, Jamison deciphers the paradox of the human heart and shield. Every day we desensitize more on a global scale, yet personally, we demand to feel and be understood. Tackling various categories of pain, such as wounds, illnesses, injuries, phantom diseases, grief and violence, Jamison is seeking a return to modesty. To accept that we know nothing and cannot glamorize, undermine or distort others’ experience. Overall Jamison’s most impressive approach was her deviation from narcissism. Very few moments in nonfiction literature does an author take the opportunity to enlighten the public in a selfless approach, particularly about transforming the way one thinks and processes their environment. Without a doubt, reading Jamison’s essays take a jab at the heart. Part psychology, half philosophy, Jamison has an uncanny talent to actualize the paler thoughts, which get
Read excerpts from the book here!